Fox Hunting Life with Horse and Hound

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kathleen okeefe foxhunterKathleen O'Keefe is a multi-time winner of both the North American and the Virginia Field Trial Championships / Liz Callar photoKathleen O’Keefe has been named Joint-Master of the Casanova Hunt. Many feel her appointment to be a natural progression for this accomplished horsewoman. O’Keefe takes the reins of one of Virginia’s oldest foxhunting clubs, expanding a lifelong love affair with horse and field sports.

O’Keefe, fifty-four and a native of Stephens City, Virginia, started riding when she was six months old in a wicker basket saddle, she says. A fourth-generation foxhunter, her late father, grandparents and great-grandfather were riders, and she grew up foxhunting with her grandmother at the Blue Ridge Hunt in Clarke County, Virginia. “I am especially proud of my father, Peter Drinkwater,” O’Keefe says, noting he won the Virginia Field Hunter Championship twice, a feat O’Keefe repeated in 2000 with her Thoroughbred field hunter Lord Hugh.

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conner_and_lawyerHuntsman David Conner and Rockbridge Lawyer 2008.              Jan Sorrells photo

Rockbridge Lawyer 2008 and his littermate Lead scored a one-two punch at the Carolinas Foxhound Performance Trials on March 26 and 27 in Hoffman, North Carolina. Competing against hounds from twelve other hunts, the Rockbridge pair finished first and second respectively after two days of hunting. We talked to Conner about his handsome and talented hound.

Trial organizer Fred Berry, MFH of the Sedgefield Hunt, has been actively involved in foxhound performance trials for years—first judging, then organizing. As a result of Berry’s considerable experience, he has introduced some interesting new wrinkles into the management of his trials to improve both the hunting and the experience for the field.

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Gathering of First Flight juniors before their mock hunt moved off.
Gathering of First Flight juniors before their mock hunt moved off.
Lauren Giannini photo

For their first seven years, the Junior North American Field Hunter Championships took place in Virginia, mostly at Old Whitewood, part of Orange County's country in The Plains. However, after Alex Matz won the First Flight (12-and-Under) championship in 2009, the notion of staging the next finals in Mr. Stewart's Cheshire country came to fruition. Blue Ridge Hunt's David Pawlak partnered with the indubitable Paris to ace the individual test in the First Flight and claim their second consecutive 13-18 championship. Makayla Benjamin (Loudoun West) and Butterfly Painting went home with the reserve tri-color.

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(L-R) Marksman and Marmite, best dog and best bitch

The annual Farmington Hunt Puppy Show was held at noon on Sunday, the first of many hot days of summer 2010, June 20th at the kennels. Pimm's Cup and other cool refreshments were served ringside by Forbes and Sherry Reback, and a post-show luncheon was served at the clubhouse by former club president B.J. Korol, with help from Kay Barquin, Shelly Thompson, and secretary and social co-chair Pattie Boden.

The hunt staff, Daron and Alison Beeney and kennelman Tom McCauley made sure the grounds were in beautiful shape for the event that welcomed a good crowd of members, visitors from out of town, and the Free Union neighborhood. Guest judges were Mrs. Phelps S. Hunter, ex-MFH of Los Altos Hounds (CA), and Martyn Blackmore, huntsman for the Loudoun West Hunt.

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